The purpose of the fourth chakra in the system as a whole is to get us to expand beyond our limited egos into a wider sense of connection with all life. This is the movement of the liberating current. While it is important not to deny or neglect the smaller self, it is indeed a liberating experience to rise beyond the confines of our own needs and find joy in service and altruism.
― Anodea Judith, Wheels of Life.
The heart chakra, Anahata, is the fourth of the seven chakras.
Anahata translates as ‘unstuck’ or ‘unbeaten.’ It points at the mystery and potential of the heart’s capacity to love and express compassion for self and others.
The heart can be a source of love and where we can connect to the deeper truth. The heart chakra expands through experiences of intimacy and heartache. The heart chakra is also where we contact suffering and pain. Fourth chakra themes include forgiveness, sadness, acceptance, and grief.
Anahata serves as a bridge to connect the lower chakras (1-3), which relate to our tangible connection to the earth, with the upper chakras (5-7), which relate to our consciousness and immaterial aspects of nature.
Keep reading to see the heart chakra themes, blockages, imbalances, yoga classes, and questions.
Heart Chakra Themes
The color for the heart chakra is green to express freshness, nature, optimism, and luck.
Green is associated with renewal, fertility, and abundance. It is closely tied to the earth and the natural world, creating a calming effect as nature can be relaxing and revitalizing.
The bija seed mantra for the heart chakra is yam. Yam means ‘to liberate’ or ‘to give.’
Anahata’s element is air. Our breath is our life force and vitality and is one of the critical indicators of how we’re feeling emotionally. Tightness or shortness of breath is a sign of stress or can indicate we are holding pain in our chests.
When our breath is smooth, slow, and deep, we are in a state of ease. When we are at ease, we can interact with our environment and other people with more integrity.
The thymus, lungs, and chest are all related to Anahata, given the placement of the heart in the center of the torso.
The thymus is a the small gland in the lymphatic system located behind the sternum between the lungs. The role of the thymus is to create special white blood cells that help the immune system fight off disease and infection.
The lungs are responsible for respiration and transporting oxygen throughout the body. Breath is life. Prana is the energy distributed through the body made possible by breathing.
Psychological Function: Attachment, Compassion, Trust, Truth.
Body Part: Lungs, Chest, Arms, Hands.
The heart chakra shadow side shows up as grief and sadness.
With the abundance, joy, and compassion we discover at the heart, there is also pain and suffering. For ourselves, for each other, for the world.
Union is only possible when we consider all sides and open our hearts to experience the loving potential in each person and experience. When we open ourselves, we risk experiencing pain to attain the beauty we seek.
Anahata teaches us to be open, appreciative, and empathetic towards others.
With ruptures, we learn resilience. We must first be accepting and tender towards ourselves before we extend such care and compassion toward others.
Themes for the heart chakra include trust, truth, and attachment.
Allowing people and events to come and go is part of the practice of being human. We see the essential nature of taking things in and letting things go through the breath. Every inhale is followed by an exhale, and each exhale creates space in the lungs for you to inhale once again.
Anahata shows us that there must be balance in how we give and receive.
In every relationship, there is a time to offer something of ourselves and the opportunity to accept what is provided. Giving and receiving gifts is a skill. We must honor both.
As time passes, all things change. Our career, our relationships, our home. People come and go in our lives, by choice or through events outside our control.
Attachment and detachment are considered at the fourth chakra.
Transcendence occurs at the heart chakra when approaching the world with radical love.
We wish others well and want the best for the universe. We approach situations with a sense of sweetness. We care for our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual bodies.
We accept others and set boundaries. We meet people where they are without judgment since we see the beauty in diversity.
The heart’s magnetic field is the strongest and extends in all directions several feet away from the body. — Source.
The charge affects all those around us and has the potential, the unstruck, to inspire individuals towards compassion, kindness, self-love, and acceptance.
Blockages and Imbalances
Feeling isolated and like no one sees you are blockages in the heart chakra. When the heart chakra is blocked, we feel grief and sadness. We may feel lethargic, lonely, and depressed.
Blockages also appear as fear of intimacy, unwillingness to share our truths, or mistrust of others.
Forgiveness and acceptance are ways to heal a blocked heart chakra. Surrendering to what is and releasing the grip of control are ways to balance the heart chakra and connect to its limitless potential.
Softening into the experience and freeing ourselves of judgment are ways to open a blocked heart chakra.
Tightness in the chest, shallow breathing, poor circulation, issues with blood pressure, infections, and other problems concerning the circulatory or respiratory systems are physical manifestations of an imbalance at the heart chakra.
Another way to assess blockages at the heart chakra is to look at someone’s posture.
What appears in the physical realm is the symptom of something happening in the subconscious. Rounded shoulders are the physical presentation of physically protecting your heart.
Yoga to Unlock the Power of the Heart Chakra
Questions for the Heart Chakra
How do I take care of myself? What are some of the rituals I perform?
How do I extend compassion toward others?
What are some of the physical ways I express love?
How do I deal with sadness? What is my process around grieving?
Do I have faith in other people? Do I trust easily?
How do I create and contribute to intimate relationships?
Do I allow things to pass with ease and grace?
Do I accept people for who they are? Do I accept myself?
Do I express my vulnerabilities to those who care?
Have I forgiven myself for any past transgressions? Have I forgiven others?
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A Brief Introduction to the Chakras
Chakra translates as ‘wheel’ or ‘disk’ and refers to the energy points of the subtle body.
We have thousands of chakras in our bodies. The ones we focus on as yogis go up to our main energy channel, Sushumna, the spine, which starts at the pelvis and goes through the middle of the torso to the top of the head.
The seven chakras are located at Sushumna. The first one, Muladhara, is at the base. The second one, Swadhisthana, is just below the belly button. The third one, Manipura, is at the solar plexus, and The fourth one, Anahata at the heart. The fifth one, Vishuddha, goes to the throat. The sixth one, Ajna, is at the third eye center, the middle of the head. And then the seventh one, Sahasrara, is the top, the head, or just above the head, depending upon who you talk to.
It’s said that at the base of our pelvis sits our creative force known as Shakti or Kundalini. This is this dormant creative force that lives inside of the pelvis. As yogis, we want to ignite or awaken that energy to have it rise from the pelvis to our third eye center, where our consciousness lives. When the kundalini energy rises, it’s said that we are awakened or receive enlightenment.
When the chakras are open, the energy flows freely, and we are awakened.
The asanas and pranayamas help to move the stagnant energy that day-to-day life can create in the body. Yoga is a way to clear the stagnant energy by observing the themes and blockages of each chakra and then creating a practice to clear and move the energy.
Prana (energy) flows through the human body’s 72,000 nadis (energy channels). The Prana that moves through the nadis is also what feeds and sustains the chakras.
The body is our initial connection to the earth, and yoga is a tool to shift how we feel. We can always return to the practice- asana, pranayama, or meditation. We might use these as tools to shift states of dis-ease. The practice allows us to return to a place where we are grounded and feel a sense of belonging.